“I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job.” — Margaret Thatcher
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — Fil-Am voter Delia Gatmaitan of Queens did not cook dinner and “we decided to eat what was left in the refrigerator so we won’t miss the debate” last night (September 26) between presidential nominees Hillary Clinton of Democratic Party and Donald Trump of Republican Party.
Gatmaitan, 66, and live-in partner, Raul, 28, a Hispanic immigrant, both Clinton supporters, have been waiting the first presidential debate since August.
Their housemate, another Fil-Am voter, Darcito Bartolome, 70, a Trump supporter, was also glued to his TV set monitoring the event at the Hofstra University in Hempstead on NBC channel, one of the networks that broadcast the “live” debate.
Like many partisan observers, they were divided on who won the first of the series of debates.
According to Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of history and Italian studies at New York University, “Civility went south fast in Monday’s debate.”
She said, “Donald Trump lost his composure early, ranting, interrupting (over 20 times) and sniffing. (Under the weather, or out of his comfort zone?) Hillary Clinton started out soft, playing the grandmother card, but quickly escalated to tough talk and occasional sarcasm. It could hardly have gone otherwise. Clinton hit hard at Trump, bringing up his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin, his ‘long record of engaging in racist behavior,’ his denial at having supported the Iraq war, and his refusal to allow the American people to see his tax returns.”
A specialist in 20th-century European history, Ben-Ghiat added: “In doing so, Clinton did Americans a big favor: she revealed Trump’s limitations. He is simply unable to make those leaps of imagination and generosity necessary to transform from a businessperson to a national political leader.”
She stressed further: “The candidate who claims to do everything big showed the smallness of his thinking tonight. With his off-key rejoinders, he demonstrated repeatedly how he sees everything — people, properties, cities, and entire countries — in terms of how they factor into his business and personal universe, which seem to be one and the same. I’ll get to Pennsylvania Avenue one way or another, he said tonight, as though the White House and his new Trump hotel are entities of equal importance. Perhaps they really are, in his mind.”
“Clinton alone demonstrated the composure, wisdom, and broad vision necessary for executive office. She won the debate hands down,” she explained.
Activist and television commentator Sally Kohn said “Trump’s train went off the rails.”
Donald Trump’s supporters like to refer to his movement as “The Trump Train.” Well, tonight The Trump Train went off the rails. Big time, Kohn pointed out.
“Admittedly, to many observers, the train was already way off track. Maybe it started the moment his campaign began, when he dismissed Mexican immigrants as ‘rapists.’ Or maybe it was when he attacked Sen. John McCain. Or later, when he attacked a Gold Star family. Certainly, many Americans have paid attention to the media’s attempts at fact checking — including one report that Trump only tells the truth 22% of the time, and another that found in five hours of talking, Trump outright lied an average of every 3 minutes and 15 seconds,” she observed.
Kohn added: “But for those who somehow thought, up until Monday night, that Donald Trump might somehow be qualified to be president, Monday’s debate was a wakeup call. He seemed like a defensive, petulant bully who could only insult Hillary Clinton and America — and couldn’t offer a single solution, let alone details. He came across as not only dreadfully unprepared for the debate, but dreadfully unprepared to be president. Which is the truth. And it’s high time all Americans know it.
“But don’t believe me. I’m obviously biased. Believe Frank Luntz. In his live focus group of undecided and leaning voters, just six people thought Trump won while 16 said Clinton was the victor. In moment after moment, the focus group preferred Clinton. For instance, Clinton’s response to Trump’s attack on her stamina scored better than Trump’s attack. And Hillary’s plan to defeat ISIS actually scored better with the Trump leaners in the group than with the Clinton leaners.
“In moment after moment, Hillary Clinton presented a knowledgeable and clear-eyed vision for how to help working families and continue America on the path to security and prosperity. Donald Trump, in contrast, lied, and got defensive. He was petty and insulting, and then lied some more. Lies apparently can only get the Trump train so far. Eventually it runs out of steam.
“Hillary Clinton showed herself to be the kind of person you want in the White House. And Donald Trump showed himself to be the kind of kindergartner who should have his train taken away and instead given a timeout.”